Ford follows Audi with a virtual showroom

When Audi first launched a virtual showroom space in the Playstation Home virtual reality environment back in 2009, it received something of a mixed response from fans.

The reaction ranged from gamers describing it as a "waste of good bandwidth" to those who admitted it was a fun marketing tool, but this week the German automaker received a strong vote of confidence - with Ford announcing it will follow in Audi's footsteps.

The US automaker launched its virtual Ford Showroom June 16, with the aim of introducing its Fiesta and Edge compact car models to US users of the Playstation Home network.

It is the first American automaker to open a space on Playstation Home, an area which it believes is perfect for exploring and interacting vehicles, despite admitting that it's "an environment where most people wouldn’t expect to see Ford."

By navigating their avatar into the showroom, US-based players can receive a free Ford (virtual) t-shirt before wandering around the space to admire the cars, accompanied by a virtual member of Ford sales staff.

Avatars can even get inside the vehicles, to play around with Ford's SYNC telematics system and play simple games on the car's computer; although there are no Audi-style racing games in the Ford showroom.

While the functionality remains fairly basic for now, it seems likely that other automakers will also open up virtual showrooms as a growing number of people adopt online avatars.

Within the first two months of its launch, Audi received 700,000 visitors to the Audi Space, the company said last year.

http://www.ford.com

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